One of the ways I know that I really love an album—truly love it and probably always will—is that I find myself wishing I could hear it for the first time again. As I push repeat and try to limit myself from OVERplaying it (another good sign that it will be an all-timer for me), I find myself trying to recall exactly how it felt to hear certain parts of certain songs for the first time—remembering the surprise and joy or sadness or hilarity of certain lines. Since downloading Chance The Rapper’s newest mixtape Acid Rap last week, I have been doing all these things. I’ve been unsuccessful at curbing my plays. I’ve gone through a new favorite song almost every day, as I continue to hear and notice new elements in each song. For all these reasons, I know this album is important to me, and maybe even to the future of hip hop.
I’m not labeling this a review. This is an article about all the things I love about this album. You may disagree, but this is my opinion. I’m just going to write about shit I like—in bullet points, for your skimming pleasure.
THINGS I LOVE ABOUT ACID RAP:
- Sincerity—How rare! He’s happy! And intellectual! He touches on drugs and sex and violence, but also on love and education and politics—all of which are important. And I don’t think he comes off as soft or cliche for displaying emotion and happiness.
- The Chicago love! From the composition, to the themes, to the specific shout outs. This album definitely makes me miss Chicago a bit.
- His way of tackling Chicago violence. Rather than sound resigned to or accepting of it, he’s critical of larger reality. He makes multiple references that—if the rest of us in the world choose to hear—we can’t help but feel convicted about.
- The really unique style of singing and rapping. And the obvious musical influences, especially acid jazz.
- I love the artists he features. And I love how they all clearly have his effect on them. They all have at least a twinge of his cadence and sing-songy style to their verses.
- There are already a lot of people drawing parallels between Chance and Kanye. I think it’s dangerous to do so for many reasons. But I think it’s worth noting that he’s doing something really very new. His stuff doesn’t sound like anything else. He’s taking big risks, and they are absolutely paying off. Hopefully people are going to really start to take notice.
- In light of the bullet point above, there’s still not a lot of arrogant bravado that’s typical of hip hop, and especially typical of Kanye. He definitely brags at times, but it’s nothing compared to a lot of young rappers today, who seem much more focused on saying how good they are rather than showing it. I think artists like Chance, Tyler, the Creator, Frank Ocean, and a few others are showing that your work should speak for itself—you shouldn’t have to sell it.
If you’ve heard the album, or the above has convinced you to do so, here are my favorite parts from each song:
GZA & Neil deGrasse Tyson Talk Astrophysics and Hip-Hop
Over the last few years, world renowned astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson and GZA have become BFF’s thanks to a shared love of science. Tyson and GZA have spoken in interviews before, but this interview from NdGT’s Star Talk show is the first one I’ve seen on video. Throughout this lengthy 34 minute clip, GZA demonstrates how science, specifically astrophysics, has informed not only his own music but that of other members of the Wu-Tang Clan.